The Mangrove Killifish
The Mangrove Killifish
Disentangling the distribution of the mangrove amphibious killifish, amazing and tiny estuarine fish that live in magrove forest pools

Latest Expeditions

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Ambassadors of the Sea in Costa Rica´s Caribbean coast has been developing a community stewardship project: preserve coral reefs as of 2016 and now in 2020 it is grounding after four years of training of its youth to undertake the challenge
Our project seeks to understand relationships between black bears and humans on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada towards promoting co-existence between people and our wild neighbors.
I will be travelling across the Pacific Ocean on SV Paradigme 2 collecting observations for INaturalist. As I sail from California to Hawaï and French Polynesia, I will be taking pictures of wildlife encountered along the journey.
Marine Conservation Philippines, Siit Arboretum, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental 6218, Philippines, Mar 1 2015 to Jan 26 2019
Marine Conservation in the Philippines
Using science to understand how local and global pressures affect marine ecosystems, we empower, engage, and build local and national capacity to reduce and adapt to pressures, aiming for a sustainable future for the Philippine people

Recent Observations

Triggerfinger Today I feel frustrated. As I'm preparing my gear for the next dive, I'm not able to make my camera housing green light its pressure test. I give it a few tries. Same result. I inspect, wash and grease all O' rings. None shows any signs of damage, but I do it anyway. My biggest fear is of course some irreparable damage to the integrity of the housing. I see that as unlikely though. I am always extremely careful with it. An hour later and with the most obvious causes ruled out I’m starting to suspect the pressure check electronic board might be the problem. Its complexity however is well beyond me. I know I will need to ask support for help. That means tomorrow I won't be diving with my camera. For the first time in years. Now, 10 hours hours later, I'm floating in the warm and calm water off the Big Arch’s northern face, waiting for the rest of the dive party to jump in. I feel odd without the heavy rig hanging off my chest. My only consolation is an old Nikonos V on my neck and an antique GoPro in my pocket. I will do what I can. The Nikonos is loaded with a 200 ASA film, too slow for underwater, but I may try a few shots on the surface. As for the GoPro, I'm not even sure it works. I fished it out last minute from my box of retired gear with no time to test it. A few moments later with everyone in the water we go down. As I slowly sink I don't know what to do with my hands. I'm usually busy switching my strobes on, tweaking their position and making sure everything works. Instead I clasp my hands together and peacefully float down. I look around, I adjust my BCD straps, I look around again. I have time. At the bottom we proceed along a familiar route. I know most of the permanent features by now. Rocky outcrops, large fans of black coral, the lip of the wall plunging down the Devil’s Jaw. I make a few half hearted attempts to film with my ancient GoPro, but find it hard without the LCD screen the more recent generations now have. Eventually I decide just to enjoy the dive. And it works. I love taking photos underwater. I really, really do. But the rig is a big, clumsy piece of technology that requires your constant attention. Taking photos you need to be as focused as a pilot landing an aircraft. And even in between shots you need to baby sit the rig. Be mindful of its bulk, its drag (it is a hell of a workout in a current!) and all of its exposed fragile parts such as the strobes, lights and its big wide angle glass dome. Today I feel like a parent, whose kids were picked up by their grandma. I miss them, but I do admit I'm starting to enjoy the freedom of it! I roll onto my back and look-up at the surface. Impossible with a 20 pound camera strapped to your chest. I remember I always used to enjoy doing this. I follow a few schools of fish, peek under a couple rocky ledges, keep up easily with my dive buddies. I am having a good time. At half tank we leave the wall and turn left. This will take us upwards to a more shallow area, closer to the main mass of the islet. A few kick cycles on I spot a movement ahead. Something fairly large is digging a pit on the ocean floor. It darts away. A moment later it is back and it resumes its digging project. I stop and watch with fascination the largest Stone triggerfish (Pseudobalistes naufragium) I have ever seen. It has already dug a sizable crater into the rough sea floor. The fish notices my presence and flicks an angry eye at me. I become as still as I can and watch. Not only do I want to keep on enjoying this spectacle, I'm also very aware of the rather infamous bad nature of Triggerfish. Large and jealousy territorial, they are known to challenge scuba divers and occasionally even attack. I try to creep closer and fumble for my GoPro. The fish flicks me another angry eye and disappears in a flash, taking out its frustration on a passing Damselfish. Then I get an idea. With the Triggerfish out of sight I quickly move ahead and drop my GoPro in the dug out pit. I let it rest on its back, tilted upwards on an angle I assume should capture some action. Then I quickly retreat, lie down and hold my breath. The fish is back in a few seconds. It can still see me, but now I'm far enough and playing dead. It goes back to digging. As soon as it starts it sees the GoPro. There is no fooling this guy! The fish looks the camera over, but the strange object must look harmless enough and theTrigger is too fond of its digging to care. It resumes its work. I lie as still as I can and keep on receiving the Trigger's cold eye stares whenever I dare breath. I'm loving it. But I cannot stay forever. I lift off and circle around the pit hoping for the opportunity to snatch my camera without losing a finger in the process (a valid concern as I learn later from my friend Sam, whose dad's pinky can tell such a story). As I'm getting ready to go for it another resident Damselfish ventures too close and the Trigger gives chase. In a flash I have my GoPro and quickly retreat. I review the footage at home and marvel at the size of the Trigger’s teeth! For what it is worth, here is a short clip. The image quality leaves much to desire and the colors were so dismal I decided to convert it to black and white. But in the end a memory I could bring home to share.
Costa Rican Community Search for Slave Ships The new docuseries ‘Enslaved’ features a chapter on Costa Rica. During this episode, through the implementation of scuba diving and community document management , we visit the underwater wreckages of two Danish slave ships that sank somewhere along the South Caribbean Coast on March 2nd, 1710. Between 2016 and 2020, the Asociación Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar undertook four expeditions in community maritime archaeology in Parque Nacional Cahuita, as well as at the seas of the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Gandoca Manzanillo (REGAMA). Due to the lack of specialists on the matter in Costa Rica, international experts have helped us carryout local training through a specialized training on community preservation of its heritage. These expeditions were undertaken sinvce 2016 under the sterardship of the Centro Comunitario de Buceo, with the support of the UCR sede Caribe (University of Costa Rica), and holding all the pertinent permits for diving in the protected areas of Cahuita and Gandoca/Manzanillo. They were assisted by specialists from the Maritime Program at East Caroline University, archaeologists from the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE in REGAMA) and, more recently, archaeologists from the National Museum of Denmark and from Diving With a Purpose (DWP), Since 2016 we have been coordinating with the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. During the first two years of our work, there was no laws protecting the underwater heritage sites that we documented. We promoted a campaign locally with UNESCO in 2017, in order to make Costa Rica ratify the Convention on the ‘Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage’ - which became the Law 9500 in 2018. We are currently helping write the regulations concerning the way in which communities may help in its implementation. Regarding the topic of Samuel L. Jackson's docudrama Enslaved, this episode is about the search of two Danish slave ships in Cahuita, and it is an important aspect of an international series. Even though the identity of the ships "El Fredericus IV" and "El Chistianus V" has not been established yet, there are signs at the bottom of the sea in Punta Cahuita, that reinforces the hypothesis that the naval vessels found there could indeed be these ships. In addition, as a contribution to the narrative of the study, we find it is essential to recover the oral stories of the passengers. There are two books that mention and research this event which are contributing important cultural and historical evidence regarding the incident, which is not acknowledged by the ‘official’ account of the area. The two Danish slave ships arrived on March 2nd, 1710 somewhere on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, on board were 650 African people that had been forced to leave their countries in Africa to become enslaved in America. The ships were wrecked near the coast, and the crew liberated the enslaves on the beach, and they then embarked on an English barge that would eventually take them to Portobelo in Panama and some back to europe after a trial. According to the historical documentation studied, many of the freed slaves went into the jungle, so it is possible they could have met and settled with the Bribri. For this reason, the episode of Costa Rica includes testimonies of the afro/indigenous in Talamanca. Others were captured by the Miskito indigenous peoples who were prowling the coast at the time and taken to the English Protectorate in Nicaraguá Atlantic Coast at the time, where they would have been enslaved. This is the reason why we contacted the afro/miskitas from the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Another group of 101 Africans arrived to Matina, where they were enslaved by settlers in the country. Evidence of many of them can be found in birth, death and marriage certificates from the period. Some also appear in the report of an investigation intending to find and locate these slaves. This investigation was commissioned by the monarchy of Spain and conducted by Diego de la Haya, who was the Governor at the time. There is also a document, in the National Archives, about a trial carried out decades later on the illicit way some of the slaves could have been acquired by settlers in Costa Rica. Precisely because of that we have been contacting people with the surnames Maroto, Brenes, and others, who we believe could have an afro lineage in their bloodline. One of them is looking into her lineage with the help of an ethnographer who is studying those possible connections. Another group of 21 Africans embarked with the captains and sailors in Portobelo, where the Europeans were captured and sent back to their place of origin. The Africans were taken away from their original owners, remaining in Panama, probably bought by new owners, as was customary of the time We know of at least four more trials, one in Portobelo and the rest in Denmark, and for this reason we have contacted an underwater archaeologist in Panama, and we are working in collaboration with archaeologists from the National Museum of Denmark. The information at the bottom of the sea is vital evidence. Diving at the archaeological sites is key, as most of the traffic of slaves was illicit, and so the supplementary evidence is insufficient. For this reason the main protagonists of this episode of "Enslaved" are the scuba diving youth of the Centro Comunitario de Buceo. They steward the underwater search, both in regards to the cultural material discovered and within the community itself. The Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar hopes this international docudrama, which prominently features the youth and local residents of the communities of Talamanca, can help to: Reinforce and deepen the roots that mark, and identify, the indigenous and Afro-descendants from the insufficiently studied cultural and historical traits, and contributions and present day status. Promote opportunities for the new generation in projects related to these cultures and to recognize the openness that these two groups had when they received many other cultures into the area; everything that makes it the most multicultural place in Costa Rica. Help close the inequality gap in the Province, and its Canton of Talamanca, which is so rich in cultural, natural and historical resources but so impoverished in opportunities for its people. Recognize the Community contribution of the Caribbean and its development of community archaeological culture. Plus, its role in the preservation and re-discoveries of events that have been on the bottom of the sea. Whether that is objects or testimonies of the story that were previously lost.
Young Volunteer of the Coral Preservation Project: An Interview about her findings regading this new expedition I interwewed Soledad Valls, presently living in Costa Rica and a student of journalism who has become a collaborator of the Centro Comunitario de Buceo Ambassadors fo the Sea. She came to volunteer at the moment in 2020 when its coral community project is gaining ground after four years of training its youth to scuba dive with a purpose, one such purpose being the preservation of the coral reefs in Costa Rica´ s Caribbean coast. Her first insights and what she has first writen about it tell the story in the diverse voices of three of its participants. The intervew ``` How did you hear about the Ambassadors of the Sea in the Caribbean? I met you, an activist, journalist, born buceadora, explorer, generous and an example for the youth. As of the founders and supporters of the initiative in Costa Rica´s Caribbean you welcomed me as a young journalist to help write about it. Hmmm, I thought, there is room in this project for young people who want to make a difference. What has called your attention about Ambassadors of the Sea? The reassignation of youth’s role in the change. The delegation of the change responsibility/ protagonism of change to the youth. Who have you interviewed so far? Gloriana, Esteban and Felix. The youngest, Esteban, now 22, was a co- founder of the initiative when he was 16 and I have been very impressed with his commitment to the commons and the ancestral knowledge he brings to the process of coral preservation. Gloriana is mother of three boys, all divers except the smallest who is too young at one and a half years of age but one of his first words has been "agua" already. She walks her talk! And Felix is very committed to corals and finding his way to learn to do it as a community endeavor being a new comer from another context. What have each of them accomplished in the Centro / what are their goals, their mission in the center. What does each of them dreams to accomplish by being part of the Centro. Esteban wants to be a Dive Master but also become an outboard motor and diving equipment mechanic "to help clean the ocean with good maintenance" as he insists. He is an amazing mixture of Afro, indigenous and caucasian blends thast makes him an old soul with plenty of ancestral wisdom. The Centro gives Felix the chance of fulfilling his desire -even in small doses- every day: to participate in meaningful projects that give his life on earth a purpose. That fulfill his desire of being a helpful tool for the environment, for this burning imminent change that is in front of us, yelling desperately/ in despair to us to become aware of it now, before it is too late. Gloriana- her dream is to work with youth to help achieve deeper awareness in the brains and souls of our future generations to adopt new productive and friendly habits “that will will make the difference”. A multitasker who is a diver, an enterpreneur prouducer of a healthy biotic gingerale , the president of the Centro and is rasing three kids with her compañero, also a diver and part of the Centro. What is the most significant message from each of them? G: Ask yourself what’ s your ideal world, what would be your role in it, and how can you achieve that? What could be your first step towards it? F: Ask yourself what you want, what’ s your priority, E: Get in touch with your roots, be productive, be active, feel useful, communicate your common wants and walk towards them. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from what they do? Although the global protest for climate change is vital/key/ essential/ indispensable/needed/important, I have learned that we have to seek direct and straight connections with nature. embrace a direct link between us and it. Making real, human connections. Humanize our relation with the cause. Because if we don’t, it remains an ideal/utopic/distant cause. But if we gain close contact with it, it starts getting closer and we get a more realistic idea of what the world can be with our help; we get a real insight of what is the significance of our role in the big picture, because every big change starts with a small step. Sol´s first production in English

The S.E.E. Initiative

Empowering people to explore and protect the ocean